As you know, I’m an avid reader (50-100+ books per year) and I’m happy to report that all four of my kids have followed suit in their love of literature. They have excellent taste in books and prudently select titles with beautiful illustrations and well-written stories.
When it comes to teaching the love of reading, I have learned that it’s best to go slow, to let your child lead the way, and to not stress about the “shoulds” (ie “my child should be reading XYZ by age…”).
Enjoy the process by reading aloud high-quality literature daily. Use voices. Snuggle on the coach. Share a snack as you read adventurous and enchanting stories. Help your child associate reading with pleasure, warmth, and wonder.
As your child grows into a teen and then a young adult, share book enjoyment with them. Read and discuss interesting books at the same time. Have fun with book-ish inside jokes. Let them see you with a book in your nose at bedtime and on vacation. Again, let the emphasis be on delight.
I’ve compiled a list of reading products below that we have particularly enjoyed with our kids at various ages and stages. This list includes: games, toys, apps, books, and book-related gadgets.
Note that some of the products in the list below were sent to us to try. Other products are ones that we purchased ourselves or were given by family members and friends. Know that I will always provide both the pros and cons of each featured product. I will also edit this page annually with new remarks to ensure that you hear about products beyond the “honeymoon stage.”
READING PRODUCTS FOR TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS
Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will naturally be enthralled by books if you introduce them early and surround them with books to touch and ponder. Board books are wonderful for little ones, but don’t limit yourself or your baby to them. Read books above their level and you will be awed to find that they will sit on your lap for longer and longer durations.
INDESTRUCTIBLES BOOKS FOR BABIES
You won’t use these for long, but they are invaluable for that short period when your baby tries to chew and tear everything (ages 4 to 9 months or so). Books in the indestructible series are made from 100% toxic-free paper. As their name suggests, they are pretty…indestructible. Your baby can chew and tear the pages all she wants as she looks at engaging, colorful illustrations and simple text.
- BUY Indestructible books – Hey Diddle Diddle, Hickory Dickory Dock, Jungle Rumble, Things That Go, My Neighborhood, or The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
WOODEN ABC PUZZLE
I appreciate toys, games, and products that fall in the Charlotte Mason, Montessori, and Waldorf categories. This includes high-quality wooden toys and puzzles. This alphabet puzzle by Hape is both very simple and very beautiful. It’s the kind of toy that you can keep in the living room without sacrificing your decor.
- BUY the Alphabet Blocks Learning Puzzle by Hape Toys.
LAMINATED ALPHABET CHARTS
For toddlers and preschoolers, start small by singing the ABC song and pointing at the various letters as you do. You can also point out specific letters and their sounds. You can say, “Which letter makes the sound dddd?” or “What letter does ‘cat” begin with?”
- BUY an alphabet poster (*the one pictured features Modern Manuscript).
READING PRODUCTS FOR EARLY ELEMENTARY
In a previous post, I told you about the best math app we have used to-date: IXL Learning. Good news! IXL also has a language arts component!
As a quick refresher, IXL is a personalized learning program that spans a wide variety of subjects – Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Spanish.
There are several factors that make IXL stand out.
- The program is skills based. In other words, you can choose from hundreds of very specific skills for your child to practice. Your child can go in order through a particular grade level or you can select a particular concept for your child to master (ex sort common and proper nouns or identify similes and metaphors).
- The program emphasizes mastery and responds intelligently to your child’s progress. As your child answers questions correctly or incorrectly, IXL “adjust” to ensure that your child is actually understanding the concept.
Don’t fret if your child is working above or below grade level. All IXL memberships provide unlimited access to every grade level available on the site for the subject(s) in your subscription.
Pricing for a single-subject (ex: language arts) membership starts at $15.95/month or $129/year for one child. Each additional child costs $4/month or $40/year. You can also buy combo packages which include other subjects.
- LEARN MORE ABOUT IXL.
WE BOTH READ BOOKS
If you have a sit-beside-me reader, you may want to check out the We Both Read series by Treasure Bay Books. Each two-page spread features one page for the parent (on the left, with longer and more complicated text) and one page for the child (on the right, with simpler text at a particular level). This format allows for a fun reading experience for both the parent and the child – allowing both readers to enjoy a story of greater depth. Both fiction and non-fiction options are available on a variety of topics.
- BUY We Both Read books.
Good primers/readers for the early school years are hard to find. The ones at the library that are in the reader section (labeled with K, 1, 2, etc) tend to be both dull and inappropriately rated. They have surprisingly difficult words with very little rhyme or reason when it comes to word repetition. Even more frustrating, these series tend to focus on television/movie characters (blah).
What’s a mom to do? Try Pathway Readers, a complete reading program for grades 1-8. We’ve only used the first, second, and third grade books (First Steps, Days Go By, More Days Go By, Busy Times, New Friends, and More New Friends), but they are EXCELLENT. The words repeat and are carefully added at an appropriate pace. Plus, the stories are interesting and engaging.
*Note: Corresponding workbooks are available, but we have never used them.
LITERATURE PRODUCTS FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Here are five reasons to love audiobooks (there are many more).
- Audiobooks are excellent for struggling and/or beginning readers because they allow young readers to consume heavy doses of high-quality literature that may be above their grade level.
- Audiobooks can assist older students who have rigorous homework loads and full schedules. Middle and high school students can “read with their ears” as a break from a plethora of print-based activities. This is especially great for auditory learners.
- Audiobooks add depth to stories with complicated plots, language, and/or characters. It can be such a help to hear a talented narrator breathe life into characters with voices, sound effects, and pauses in all of the right places.
- You can listen to audiobooks while doing other activities – driving, riding in the car, folding laundry, cleaning your room, knitting, drawing, etc.
- Road trips! Audiobooks allow families to grow together and have shared conversations on-the-road.
Audible, which is owned by Amazon, has almost every book title you can search for. There are a number of different plans you can choose from, depending on how many books you would like to access per month. Audible trumps CDs in a CD player because you can listen from almost any device (and switch between devices) without losing your place. Plus, you can speed up or slow down the narration to listen at your own comfort level and pace.
- LEARN ABOUT Audible.
I use book darts every day to mark quotes and sentences that I want to remember as I read. I have been using them for years and I recommend them every chance I get. The small circular tins make great gifts too! Perfect for stocking stuffers, birthday presents, and teacher appreciation gifts!
My 13-year-old daughter LOVES these for her assigned reading assignments for school also. They allow her to “hold that thought” without marking up her book or getting up to jot down notes with a paper & pencil. All in all, book darts make for a cozier reading experience.
- BUY Book Darts.
One of the biggest ways to help your child to fall in love with reading is to fill your house and your shelves with beautiful and interesting books. You can find books anywhere – new bookstores, used bookstores, yard sales, thrift stores, or online platforms.
If you want to take your book collection to the next level, however, browse the absolutely stunning books by The Folio Society. Exquisitely designed to be a pleasure to hold and to see, your bookshelf will gleam with these titles on the shelf. Perhaps you might start a tradition where you buy one new title for your child each Christmas or on his/her birthday? Choose titles that are aligned to your child’s interests and personality. If you have trouble deciding, I highly recommend Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. Teens will appreciate The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, and the gorgeous duo of The Odyssey and The Iliad by Homer. New titles are released four times every year so you will never run out of ideas and inspiration!
- BUY books from The Folio Society.
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more of our favorite reading products and resources.